British surgeons are appealing for funds so they can complete research which will lead to the first womb transplants in the UK.

A team of doctors based in London have launched a charity to raise cash to finish the preparatory research and to perform the first five operations.

Scientists are said to be at a "critical stage" in the research and have launched the charity Uterine Transplantation UK to raise £500,000 to complete the final phase of groundwork before performing the surgery.

first uk womb transplant

Womb transplants offer an alternative to surrogacy or adoption for women whose own wombs have been damaged by diseases such as cervical cancer.

Every year 14,000 British women discover they are infertile because either they were born without a viable womb or they have undergone a hysterectomy following a serious illness.

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Richard Smith, consultant gynaecological surgeon, and his team have been researching the possibility of transplanting a donor womb into a woman so she can have a child - or even two - before the donated womb is then removed.

This means the recipient would only have to take drugs which make their bodies accept the transplant for a limited period - reducing long term health risks.

Scroll down to see which celebs turned to IVF (PICTURES)

Once the research is complete the scientists can apply for ethics permission.

Mr Smith said: "We are confident, especially with a transplant abroad being carried out with the same methodology that we have recommended that within two years or so, given enough funding, we can begin helping women in the UK.

"Infertility in its various forms is increasing and while IVF can and does help many women, for those who do not want to go the route of surrogacy or adoption, nothing but a transplant can help a woman without a viable womb.

"Quite rightly the UK has the highest level of regulation and safety is paramount and so we have to prove the whole process in several animal models before drawing up the protocols for a human transplant.

"So far we have spent almost half a million pounds - mostly funded by members of the team - on the research up to this point.

"In the US and elsewhere grant aid is much more accessible but in this economic climate with NHS and other budgets being squeezed for understandable reasons, it is much more difficult to raise grants for research in the UK, hence the need for the appeal."

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  • Celine Dion

    Singer Celine tried for six years before conceiving her eldest son, Rene-Charles in 2001. She then battled on to have twi sons Eddy and Nelson in 2010 after another six failed rounds of IVF. "<a href="http://mommyish.com/pregnancy-health/unbearable-celebrities-who-speak-out-for-ivf-807/gallery-page/9/" target="_hplink"><strong>These treatments were truly hard on my wife's body. It wasn't simple at all</strong></a>," Celine's husband Rene said at the time.

  • Brooke Shields

    Brooke Shields spoke out about her struggle to conceive when it took six rounds of fertility treatment until she fell pregnant with her eldest daughter, Rowan. "<a href="http://mommyish.com/pregnancy-health/unbearable-celebrities-who-speak-out-for-ivf-807/#ixzz1zSjQwjCJ" target="_hplink"><strong>The difficulty of IVF or of any fertility issues is the hope and the shattered hope, the dream that it might happen this time and then it doesn't happen</strong></a>."

  • Courteney Cox

    Actress Courteney and then husband David Arquette conceived their daughter Coco after IVF following several miscarriages. "<a href="http://www.gurgle.com/news/celebrity-parents/rod-stewart-and-penny-lancaster-and-other-celebrities-who-used-ivf-to-conceive/2315" target="_hplink"><strong>In vitro is a wonderful thing that people can do in this day and age, and I'm lucky enough to be able to afford it</strong></a>."

  • Emma Thompson

    Actress Emma Thompson gave birth to daughter Gaia in 1999, thanks to IVF. Emma and husband Greg Wise later adopted Rawndan refugee, Tindy. <strong>"<a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/celebrity/famous-parents-who-struggled-to-conceive-ivf-adoption-fertility/#photo-13" target="_hplink">There's been an awful a lot of grief to get through in not being able to get pregnant again, but there are thousands and thousands of women like me who can't have children</a>."</strong>

  • Gabby Logan

    Sports presenter Gabby and husband Kenny conceived twin sons Lois and Reuben via IVF after a three year fertility battle. <strong>"<a href="http://www.gurgle.com/news/celebrity-parents/rod-stewart-and-penny-lancaster-and-other-celebrities-who-used-ivf-to-conceive/2315" target="_hplink">We are both positive people so we didn't really get down when nothing happened. Every month, when I realised I wasn't pregnant, I'd think, 'Oh well. next month will be fine'. Sometimes I'd have a couple of days of feeling defeated, but I soon moved on</a>."</strong>

  • Penny Lancaster

    Rod Stewart's wife Penny tried for two years to conceive their second son Aiden. Penny fell pregnant after trying procedures in both the UK and the US. "<a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/celebrity/famous-parents-who-struggled-to-conceive-ivf-adoption-fertility/#photo-16" target="_hplink"><strong>IVF can be stressful, especially for the women with all the hormone injections and procedures</strong></a>."

  • Jane Seymour

    Actress Jane Seymour wrote a book about her fertility struggles, called, <em>Two at a Time: The Journey Through Pregnancy and Birth</em>.

  • Marcia Cross

    Desperate Housewives star Marcia Cross started IVF soon after her marriage, and successfully conceived twins, Eden and Savannah. Marcia, as an actress on a high-rated show, acknowledged the high cost of IVF, telling <em>USA Today</em>, "<a href="http://www.gurgle.com/news/celebrity-parents/rod-stewart-and-penny-lancaster-and-other-celebrities-who-used-ivf-to-conceive/2315" target="_hplink"><strong>it's very expensive and (requires) a lot of needles and shots</strong></a>."